Will Aegean Airlines Ever Go Long Haul With Widebodies?

Aegean Airlines, the owner of Olympic Air and the flag carrier of Greece, operates flights to nearly every single major Greek airport. It also flies fly across the Mediterranean and to every major city in Europe… however, it doesn’t have a single long-haul aircraft.

Aegean Airlines only operates narrowbody aircraft Photo: Tom Boon / Simple Flying

The case for long-haul flights

Considering that Greece is a massive tourist destination and that Aegean has an excellent reputation in Europe (its inflight meals are honestly fantastic), long-haul services are right up its alley.

Currently, the carrier only has 50 aircraft, a mix of Airbus A320s and neos, and has another 29 A320neos (and A321neos) on order for fleet expansion. Notably absent is anything bigger than the A321neo.

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You would think that Aegean could easily operate long haul routes to destinations like China, or North America, or at least Southeast Asia/Oceania. Why did the Greek carrier never expand into long-haul operations? Let’s explore.

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The three main reasons

There are three reasons why Aegean Airlines has not expanded into true-long haul services.

The first is their hub airport of Athens. Athens, at one point, was set on becoming a world powerhouse of an airport hub. It was the biggest in the region in the 90s and had plenty of room to expand. However, the managers at the time seemed to let the opportunity slip and other airports (like nearby Istanbul Airport) were built and took over that mantle.

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Case in point, on a recent trip from Singapore to Greece, there were few flights (if any) that linked the two cities. Without a large and popular hub, Aegean would only be operating to smaller airports.

In addition to that last point, as many of these small islands only have short runways, Aegean would have limited locations to fly their long-haul aircraft (although the A330-800neo would be perfect for the airline thanks to its ability to land on short runways).

Boarding via the rear stairs in Crete (HER), a very small airport. Photo: Simple Flying

The second is that the Greek airline business model is incredibly seasonal. Greece is hugely popular in the summer months, and Aegean finds itself hiring extra A320 aircraft every year (a typical reason why their livery is so plain, so they can swap in new aircraft).

However, the months are lean in winter and Aegean actually shuts down entire routes from international destinations to popular islands. So, would there be enough business in the winter for a whole long-haul aircraft?

As for the third…

Aegean doesn’t want to go long-haul

Speaking to Airline Geeks, Aegean Airlines explained why it never went into the long-haul business, despite the perceived lost opportunity.

“The airline business is notorious for its profitability. It’s very difficult to achieve even low profit-margins and it’s very easy to lose lots of money. Look at the recent bankruptcies in Europe (FlyBMI, Primera, Small Planet, Cobalt, Germania, Air Berlin, etc.) You need to focus on what you’re doing well. If you decide to change your model, you’d better be sure that you can do it well.” spoke Dimitris Gerogiannis, CEO of Aegean Airlines to Airline Geeks.

Aegean Airlines
Aegean Airlines route map. Photo: Aegean

“The airline business is not a business that you can experiment a lot with models and long-haul is a completely different business model. We’re not going to think about it before we feel that there is a real opportunity for Aegean and for our capabilities. We know what we’re good at, and we know what we’re probably not good at…”

What do you think of this? Should it go long-haul? Let us know in the comments.

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Colm

I flew with them about 6 years ago and found them a very nice company to fly with. I think if they did go long haul, Melbourne would be their best bet to start off with as it would give them year round feed. It would be a big step… Read more »

Ibrahim

Also they can start with a320xlr, it fits their airports and will bring them more tourists from further destinations

Aaflyer123

Good for Aegean if they know what they are doing… Most airlines in EU don’t have a clue what they are doing right or wrong…
If they start experimenting they might probably follow the trend in going bankrupt…

Steve foutoulis

Why would they fly long haul? The have mannaged to monopolize the flights in greece and charge for a 40 minute flight as much as other airlines charge for a 4 hour flight!!

Mike

Yes Aegean airlines has to go long half I think Lufthansa to put Aegean airlines to star alliance ask Aegean not to fly overseas

Daniel Baglietto Seymour

I flew on a very comfortable Aegean A321 from Madrid to Athens and then on one of their A320’s to Santorini.I was very impressed by their catering,attention to detail and high standard of service.I would definitely fly with them again! Concentrate on short haul and keep up Your high standards… Read more »

Nikolaos

A3 has a very good product for a regional airline. The problem is that they are competing against giants with deep pockets, so, experimenting could be detrimental. They don’t have any support by the state or the airport, hence the lack of confidence. However, they tried Tehran and it went… Read more »

David Hawkins

Aegean are absolutely superb at doing short haul. Their catering on business is like a top class restaurant hard to see how first class could be better ! So if they are going to expand why not expand into the European short haul market ? Of course they would have… Read more »

Jason D

I agree with only one exemption…NY! I believe it should eventually try it out! There is potential and the Greeks will embrace such route with almost the same warmth as the London route….

Johnnie

The question is dumb and the answer is not given. The reason why they don’t and won’t fly long haul is that the “mother company” (LH) will not allow little aegean too steal away passengers from them. They have them as auxiliary to bring the passengers to them so as… Read more »

anonymous

Why would they even consider flying Long Haul when they are in an alliance that has Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines and United in it? It would be much easier for Aegean to just have deeper ties with those airlines since their all in the same alliance rather than gambling on Long… Read more »

Rusty

I have flown Aegean several times and I think in business, bigger isn’t always better. They are a Star Alliance member and have long haul to North America on United and Air Canada and Lufthansa and SWISS in Europe therefore do not need long range widebodies. I do not think… Read more »

Aris

Come on, let’s be honest here. The only reason why Aegean is not flying long-haul, is because they belong to Star alliance group. So, that means Lufthansa would never allow Aegean to go long-haul flights. The system works fine for the Germans now, Aegean is carrying all passengers who wants… Read more »

Steve G

Long-haul wouldn’t be good idea. I think they should extend their short-haul service adding new hubs around the Balkans, because Athens Airport is very very expensive. Now they have some other focus airports around Greece, but again: they are attractive only during the summer. The right step they are taking… Read more »